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TATA Steel is planning to sell its Long Products division, which employs 6,500 workers at sites including Teesside, Scunthorpe and Scotland, the company has announced this morning.

It's revealed that a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed with the Klesch Group, an industrial company operating across Europe.

The planned sale covers several UK-based sites including Tata Steel's mills on Teesside, Scunthorpe in North Lincolnshire, Dalzell and Clydebridge in Scotland, an engineering workshop in Workington and a rail consultancy in York, as well as other operations in France and Germany.

Around 6,500 people work at Long Products Europe and its distribution facilities, supplying products for industries including construction and excavation.

Unions say they are disappointed with the way the announcement had been handled and were seeking talks to discuss any impact on jobs.

Karl Koehler, chief executive of Tata Steel's European operations, said: "We will now move into detailed due diligence and negotiations, though no assurance can be given about the outcome. We will regularly engage with our employees and other stakeholders throughout this process, and we will consult with the trade union representatives and works councils.

"We are making huge strides on our strategic journey to become a premium, customer-centred steel company thanks to investment in equipment, technology and customers, together with the substantial contributions from our employees. We've improved the competitiveness of Tata Steel's European operations, including Long Products Europe which now supplies more of the innovative steel rail, rod, plate, sections and special profile products demanded by customers.

Accelerating the pace of innovation on advanced steel solutions, helping our customers succeed in their markets and creating a sustainable asset base requires significant capital and expertise. We have therefore decided to concentrate our resources mainly on our strip products activities, where we have greater cross-European production and technological synergies.

We want to build a sustainable business in the UK and further develop our mainland Europe business and we are committed to providing the necessary leadership and financial resources to achieve that."

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